Private Project

Going Sane

Going Sane explores major cracks in the mental health system including:

Most mental health patients receive either disproven treatments, treatments without scientific backing or evidence based treatments done incorrectly. There are proven treatments, and they work most of the time. But these are not the treatments patients usually receive.
Therapy for mental health is not regulated nor standardized so practitioners chose what therapies to use based on intuition and not on science.
Decades of research indicate that the most effective therapy (from assessment through treatment) includes family. Yet family inclusion is the exception and not the rule.

Over the last thirty years America has more than quadrupled its mental health spending and significantly increased the number of mental health professionals, yet many of the most common mental illnesses are on the rise. It seems strange that increased spending on mental health treatment is correlated with the growth of mental illness. But what if it’s not just a surprising correlation? What if the mental health industry is part of the problem?

So why is the mental health field so different from the medical field’s evidenced-based treatments? The medical field used to be just like the mental health field: Doctors choose treatments based on personal preferences rather than proven effectiveness, which led to a lot of poor outcomes. But that all changed in the 1960s when medical professionals established a method for evaluating research and selecting proper treatments. The revolution was known as evidence based practice or EBP. The success had been well documented saving hundreds of thousands of lives each year. But the mental health field has not made the transition.

Going Sane asks the question, if EBP has been so successful for the medical field, why hasn’t the mental health field embraced it? The mental health field is held back for one primary reason: practitioners tend to maintain a psychoanalytic, isolating approach so seldom educate or include networks of support in treatment, which would mostly be parents and families but could include educators and others.

For the last fifty years research has continued to prove that families are generally not responsible for mental illnesses and involving family members in the treatment of mentally ill patients is crucial to success. But mental health professionals continue to isolate patients and remain unaccountable to families who are only left to care for their loved ones once the treatment has proven, yet again, unsuccessful.

We interviewed many families dealing with mental illness and many of the nations’ leading experts to discovered that most mental health patients are receiving outdated and disproven treatments. Witness the state of mental health care in America through our new 65 min documentary Going Sane.

  • Josh Sabey
  • Josh Sabey
  • Lisa Sabey
  • Sarah Perkins
  • Zak Ciotti
  • Spencer Sullivan
  • Tim Sikora
  • Sonja Ciotti
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 6 minutes 1 second
  • Completion Date:
    May 11, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    35,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Josh Sabey

Josh Sabey has had valuable experience at every stage of production from planning and scripting to filming and editing in his work as writer and director for, an NPO dedicated to creating world class documentaries about mental illness. Their first documentary was purchased by and has been distributed internationally. It has been screened at several universities across the nation including Stanford and UCSD. Going Sane, his next documentary premieres early in 2017. Currently he creates written and video content for firms across the Raleigh Durham Triangle.

His success comes from his ability to make the most of what he has: if he needs something more he will find a way to get it, if not then he’ll live without. At his core, Josh will always be a writer who simply wants to tell a beautiful story.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Lisa Sabey, Executive Producer:
"For years I went to bed at night fearing that I’d wake up to find my daughter’s body, cold and dead, slouched against her bedroom wall or bleeding out into her mattress. The imagination is cruelest when it plays with real probabilities. She had anorexia, depression, anxiety, and was suicidal. When she was not in a treatment center, she had weekly therapy with a psychologist. But it seemed that the more she worked with professionals, the worse she got. By the time she reached her senior year of high school, she was pleading to die.

Still I had to believe the professionals were doing the best they could and that things were getting worse simply because mental illnesses are extremely complicated. That’s what I told myself and that’s how I lulled myself into sleep at night. It’s how I was able to endure year after year and how I was able to write check after check.

As I waited for a miracle, I began to read as much as I could, to understand for myself the illnesses that plagued my daughter, thinking maybe I could help fix everything. But I stayed in the waiting room when she talked to her therapist. An hour later, when we went home together, I would ask about the session but she wouldn’t talk much. It was devastating to feel entirely left out of the therapeutic loop—not only the illness but now the treatment itself stood between us. I longed for deeper connection with my suffering daughter.

I think part of the reason it hurt so much was because I believed that if I could understand more I could help more. It felt unbearable to simply sit on the sidelines. This was my daughter, a girl I had loved all her life. A girl I prodded out of bed in the morning. A girl I drove from place to place. A girl who haunted my mind for hours each night and stole away my sleep. A girl I could perfectly remember as a newborn, how cold her red skin seemed and how she loved to be held. And now I was just waiting for whatever magic was taking place behind closed doors to finally kick in. It was miserable.

And so I read. Book after book. The more I read, the more discontent I felt toward the field of behavioral science. I quickly learned the most effective, evidence-based treatments for anorexia was, hands down, Family Based Treatment. This is a manualized treatment that brings the family into the therapy session and teaches them skills to help refeed and rebuild their child. It connected the sufferer with his/her family. And yet after ten years of therapy, this treatment had never been used for my daughter.

How is this possible!

Ten years and tens of thousands of dollars and none of the professional therapists had bothered to read the latest science? It was incomprehensible, almost unbelievable. I thought I must not understand something about my daughter’s case. I was just beginning my research after all and the people treating her had years of education. That’s what I assumed. But then I read a blog by Tom Insel. It was his last blog as President of the National Institute for Mental Health. Talking to the mental health professionals, he stated: “We can save lives, many lives, simply by closing the unconscionable gap between what we know and what we do.”

After reading this statement and the blog post it came from, I wondered (and later confirmed) that maybe I had been right about my daughter receiving poor treatments. But what I found to be the case was even more horrifying. According to the research, it was not just my daughter who was receiving bad treatments, but also the vast majority of mentally ill patients.

It was almost too large to comprehend. I reeled with the awakening, like I had risen from a deep sleep in the middle of the day. It was not some conspiracy theory. All the science and the very top leaders of the United States Institute for Mental Health were saying it. The message was clear: in America, most of the time we deliver disproven or outdated treatments to mentally ill patients. It is simply wrong—“unconscionable” as Tom Insel put it.

And so I decided to do something about this unconscionable gap between therapy and research.

For 15 months I crisscrossed the nation interviewing top professionals, individuals with a variety of mental illnesses, and families who had children with mental illnesses. Working with professional filmmakers, we made a documentary identifying the root causes for the gap between research and practice and why practitioners are so hesitant to include family in treatment.

The outcome of these interviews is the documentary Going Sane: The Insanity of Mental Health Care In America and is found at If you are struggling to understand why the mental health field is failing your child, this will not only explain many of the problems you face but also help you overcome them.

Parents cannot assume the therapies their children receive are up to date. It’s shocking, it’s discouraging, it’s almost unbelievable. But it’s true. And the most obvious example is that most therapists exclude family from therapy sessions even though family involvement has been proven again and again to be crucial to successfully treating most mental illness.

So if you’re left in the waiting room while your child goes off to see a therapist, that’s a big red flag. Watch Going Sane to understand why families continue to be excluded from treatment and why they need to get involved. It will change how you approach treatment, empower you to get better treatment, and give you hope for the future. I know, because I’ve been there."